South Carolina Lawmakers Propose 5-Year Jail Sentence for Anyone Implementing Obamacare

If South Carolina State Rep. Bill Chumley (R) and State Sen. Lee Bright (R) get their way, Obamacare implementation will not just be unpopular in South Carolna. It will be illegal.

Last week, both legislators filed bills with their respective chambers that would give any South Carolina state employee who works to enforce the Affordable Care Act up to two years in prison. Federal employees caught in South Carolina? Five years.

Under their proposals, any state employee who violates the proposed law and works to enact Obamacare “must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” Federal employees could receive up to a $5,000 fine, five years in prison, and a felony conviction.

“I think we’re within our rights to do this…. It’s an obligation, I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect the people,” Chumley told U.S. News. Meanwhile, Bright commented that “just because the Supreme Court says something is constitutional, it doesn’t make it constitutional.”

Bright’s justification appears to be factually incorrect: the Supreme Court has a well-established history of possessing the power of final judicial review.

Similarly, Chumley bases his argument on the arcane legal theory of nullification, which has been repeatedly rejected by courts. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson threatened to use troops to end a dispute between South Carolina and the federal government. Nullification efforts notably increased tensions before the Civil War. Ron Romine, a professor of political science at University of Southern California Upstate and Democratic Party county chairman, stated that “[nullification] went out after Appomattox Court House where Robert E. Lee gave his sword over to General Grant… we have a United States of America.” Robert Jeffrey, another professor at Wofford College, said that “states have no legal recourse” on the grounds of constitutionality.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has voiced her opposition to Obamacare, stating she will not establish a South Carolina health care exchange or expand South Carolina’s Medicaid program with federal assistance, both required under the Affordable Care Act.

Perhaps due to flagging poll numbers – Haley currently has a 49% disapproval rating – Haley has not commented on the law proposed by Chumley and Bright, and Chumley says he has not asked her for her support or consideration.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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